I finally sat down with some free time to properly read through Sharon and Robin’s blog, Despair to Deliverance. I won’t get into detail but in summary, it’s about Robin who had a major depressive ‘meltdown’ and her journey to recovery with her therapist Sharon. It’s a very detailed, and harrowing read for someone who has ‘been there, done that’.
I’m at “I Hate Myself, I Hate My Life and I Want to Die.” and I’m vividly remembering my own ‘break’ just last November. It was the situation that got me started on this blog.
I’m a conscript, a forced soldier for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). I got diagnosed while I was in here cause I’ve been hiding my bipolar since ten. Like Robin, I had faced death’s door on and off for over a decade and was in my own, bad place.
There’s a lot of reasons for what happened to me last November to have happened and I won’t go into the details. Just saying that being in a militarized organization meant dealing with the stigma for mental illnesses were an even bigger challenge with the added category of malingering. There are more to it though, but I want to cover that some other time, when I have more time to gather my thoughts and write something more coherent.
But back to November. The stress of living a militant life finally broke me. I haven’t mentioned this but I’m a practitioner of martial arts and armed combat, so not only I’m I trained to fight, I have weapons lying around my house I keep. It’s how I de-stress. Dangerous, yes, but it also helps me with my paranoia. The stronger I got, the less paranoid I become.
I was in my room, a katana pointed blade first to my stomach. I was crying, screaming through gritted teeth in a dark room, locked from the outside world, wearing the disgusting uniform that I’ve grown to hate. I was ready to end it. To plunge that blade through my stomach and spill my guts across the floor. It was less than a minute, but it was the toughest minute of my life. To pull myself out of that. Before I knew it, I’d dropped my sword and was sobbing uncontrollably on the ground.
For the first time in my life, I dialled a hotline. The SAF counselling hotline. I could tell immediately the person on the other side was just a counselor’s assistant, a conscript like myself and not a professional therapist. I guided him through what to do to calm me down. Talk about normal stuff like the weather and movies. Bring me back to reality. I said my thanks and hung up.
It was surreal after that. And I think that’s what happened in Robin’s life as well. She knew she was a danger to herself and went to find Sharon. It’s the experience that can only comes from years of living with what we have and it’s something that I find almost impossible to explain without much effort. The ability to know you’re near death and mentally fight it. To be able to react under severe dissociation and apathy.
And it’s more painful because you know it’s coming. It’s worst because actively fighting the urge to kill yourself prolongs your life, and in turn the pain you feel at that time. I realized that I became acutely aware of the pain a few years back. It’s worst because you know exactly what, when and why it’s hurting and the crushing feeling of being unable to do anything about it.
But I will say it right now. Even though I know the day of the pain will come again, each victory just tastes that much sweeter – if I can bring myself to taste the fruits of labor – though ever the more tiring to hold onto with each passing day.
I want to go on, I really do. But this post might be going longer than what my normal readers would like. There’s so much about mental illnesses that would take pages upon pages to explain. The stigma, the anxiety, the hypersensitivity, and many, many more. Each individual topics, complex enough in themselves, forms the often misunderstood image of mental illnesses.
So go read Despair to Deliverance. It can show you a world that I might not be able to do so clearly here.